The Howgill Fells

The Howgill Fells are a little different to the other mountains in the Dales 30. They are in the northwest of the national park, separated from the Lake District National Park by the M6 to the west and are situated in the land between the lovely town of Sedburgh which lies to the south of them and the villages of Ravenstonedale and Tebay to the North. The River Lune forms a boundary to the north and west and the River Rawthey to the East. Historically, they were split between the West Riding of Yorkshire and Westmorland.

They have a fairly distinctive steep, rounded, grassy shape with quite complex topography and were famously described by Alfred Wainwright as a ‘herd of sleeping elephants’. Geologically, they are different from the Yorkshire Dales and one consequence of this is that they tend to be grassy and a good surface for walking or running, with plenty of good footpaths. No trudging through peat bogs here, although Yarlside in particular is too steep to be runnable. All 5 are lovely places to visit and definitely among my favourites in the National Park.

Five of the Dales 30 are within the Howgills Fells, although there are other peaks well worth climbing which are not part of the 30.

The five are

  • Calders at 674 metres
  • The Calf at 676 metres
  • Fell Head at 640 metres
  • Yarlside at 639 metres
  • Randygill Top at 625 metres


The Howgills receive a tiny fraction of the number of visitors that other fells in Cumbria do, but this is one of the few of the 30 where you are quite likely to see other walkers and indeed runners, due to its proximity to Sedbergh, the relatively straightforward walking and the superb views. There are a number of routes, one can simply park in Sedbergh and take one of the routes over Winder, or the Dales High Way, both of which are easy to follow. All of the routes bring you on to Arant Haw and from there to Calders. An alternative is to start at the wonderful Cross Keys Temperance Inn (or finish there for coffee and cake).

View from Calders

The Calf

The Calf is on the same ridge as Calders and Fell Head, and easily combined with either or both.

The Calf summit

Fell Head

This one can be conveniently combined with an ascent of The Calf, as they part of the same ridge. Navigation is fairly straightforward on a clear day, although a map is definitely required. On a day with poor visibility, I could imagine this being quite tricky. Being on the western edge of the Howgills, there are good views over the M6, Killington Reservoir and into the Lake District. Surprisingly far north, Bowness/Windermere and Kendal to the west are both south of here.

The view from the side of Fell Head towards the M6 and Lake District.


Yarlside is a steep climb, with the grassy descent to the north being particularly steep. However, the views are superb and the approach from the Cross Keys via Cautley Spout is delightful. Cautley Spout is one of many waterfalls that claim to be England’s largest - it is certainly impressive and well worth seeing. Great views not only of the Howgills, but also across to Wild Boar Fell and Baugh Fell.

The cairn at the summit of Yarlside.

Looking over towards Cautley Spout from the ascent to Yarlside

Back towards the Cross Keys Temperance Inn

Randygill Top

This is best combined with Yarlside, and also pretty steep. Both are rarely visited, but there are superb views to be had in this northeastern part of the Howgills.

Summit of Randygill Top.